Sentinel Snake Oil | New Times Broward-Palm Beach

Broward News

Sentinel Snake Oil

Remember when the Sun-Sentinel went to psychics to provide us expert prognostication on how bad this hurricane season would be? Ken Kaye led the March 27 piece (of ...) saying that clairvoyants and Vegas oddsmakers believed we would be nailed by a Category 2.

Cute. As if there isn't enough chaos, confusion, and misinformation surrounding hurricanes. Might as well get 'em worked up by fake psychics and bookmakers. From Kaye's front-page story:

Perhaps most worrisome: Two South Florida psychics are in general agreement that a Category 2 hurricane will clobber the region.

Helane Lipson, a Boca Raton psychic who last year accurately predicted a hurricane would whack South Florida in late October, foresees a system striking Palm Beach sometime in September and leave "lots of water." At least, that's what the spirits are telling her, she said.

"What's coming up is more harmful than what we've already seen, believe it or not," she said, with a candle burning nearby, eyes shut tight. "The eye of the hurricane is close to where I am, hitting Boynton or Delray Beach."

Deborah Graham, a Boca Raton psychic consultant, also sees a Category 2 hitting Palm Beach County late in the season. The good news: Her tarot cards say the storm won't be as vicious as Wilma. But, with incense and candles burning behind her, she noted, "We are going to see a rough hurricane season. On this prediction, I want to be wrong."

Unbelievably, she was, indeed wrong. Why am I bringing this insufferable crap up today? Because the Sentinel continues to coddle psychics with a story leading Lifestyles today by Margo Harakas, headlined: "Soul searching: Sally Baldwin says she can reach out to departed loved ones." Here's Harakas' awful awful lede:

The dead do not appear to Sally Baldwin with their earthly, physical attributes intact. They are neither short, tall, fat, thin, red-haired, brunette, young nor old. "They come with a feeling, with an intensity."

Nor do these "spirits" speak to her in words.

"It's an essence, an energy flow," says the Lauderdale-by-the-Sea resident, that "passes through me and comes out in spoken words."

Thanks to the popularity of psychics and best-selling authors Allison DuBois and John Edward, channeling has spread beyond a cult curiosity.

The Amazing (and sane) Randi

Since when did the Sentinel get in the business of promoting crackpots? Why would the newspaper spread such ignorance?

To the newspaper's credit, Harakas quotes James Randi as the token "skeptic" -- rather than "sane person" -- but she gives more time to some crackpot University of Arizona professor who actually claims this kind of crap (like that obvious charlatan John Edward) is real.

What's next, stories about how the Sun-Sentinel can help you become rich, save your kids from imminent death caused by household items, and live your life better?

Oh wait, they already do that. It's called the Help Team.

After the jump: The Post on La Cage Aux Foley (or the Cocktober Surprise)

Maybe the story of the weekend was Mark Schwed's piece on the closet in the Palm Beach Post Sunday. Filled with stories of the torture, lies, and psychological claustrophobia closeted gays endure. And it may say as much about the Mark Foley story as anything written to date.

In Frank Cerabino's rather warmed over Foley story in the same newspaper (how many broad and sweeping features on Foley's life does the Palm Beach Post think it can get away with?) there are a couple of interesting quotes. One comes from political consultant Andre Fladell remarks that Foley wasn't an "MTV gay." Don't really have a snappy one-liner (without a lame joke about Carson Daly involved), but that's one of the strangest ways I've heard to say he wasn't flamboyant.

And then there's a very good quote from conservative gay writer Andrew Sullivan, a man who is capable of both great brilliance and great stupidity, sometimes in the same sentence. This one leans toward the former:

"There is something deeply sick about a Republican elite that is comfortable around gay people, dependent on gay people, staffed by gay people — and yet also rests on brutal exploitation of homophobia to win elections at the base. If you treat gay sex in any form as a shameful secret to keep concealed, the line between adult, consensual contact and the sexual exploitation of the young may not seem so stark."

That's good stuff. Speaking of Foley, I feel a bit of failure in that I haven't come up with a decent name for this thing. The people at Fark came up with these ideas (which I came across on Wonkette):

Masturgate Pedohomodomoarigatomrrobotogate a/s/l gate The Republican NAMBLArama La Cage Aux Foley Cocktober Surprise AOLolitagate

They're funny as they are unusable. The easy answer, especially since the coverup is more important than the crime, is Foleygate. But I can't abide that. It's just too damn pedestrian and predictable. The ultimate name of the scandal, I believe, is the same as the man. It's simply "Mark Foley." That's all you need to say. It's like he has his own disease named after him. There's Mark Foley the man, as in "Mark Foley liked to talk sex with teen boys," and Mark Foley the scandal, as in "Then Mark Foley broke and wrecked the GOP's mid-term hopes." Works for me.